Edward Fuoss believes the Bremer County Fair needs an upgrade.
An avid fair-goer, Fuoss recently made a pledge to donate $50,000 to the Champions Ridge project. He has seen the fair as well as the softball and baseball programs outgrow their current facilities in Memorial Park.
“I’ve always loved going to fairs, the same way with ball games, I go to a lot of kids’ ball games and stuff,” Fuoss told Waverly Newspapers. “I just wanted to be a part of the community.
“I want to see Champions Ridge get developed and get going.”
Champions Ridge is the future home of the Bremer County Fairgrounds and will hold up to 12 softball and baseball diamonds located on the western outskirts of Waverly. The fairgrounds will be nearly twice as large as the current location, and the diamonds will have better conditions, including permanent fencing surrounding each field.
Fuoss also said parking is a big issue when the fair takes place in late July and early August.
“Parking is all the way from the fairgrounds to Bremer Avenue, when they have big shows and events,” he said. “The same from this hospital clear east to the river. Cars are parked on side streets all over town.”
Fuoss said lead fundraiser Terry Hinrichs, owner of General Development Group of Nashua, was persuasive enough to help him agree to his $50,000 gift. He’s already contributed $33,000 of his pledge.
“I’ve known Terry ever since he was up at the hospital for their fundraising for their foundation,” Fuoss said. “I got acquainted with him then.”
He thinks that the new facility will help the 4-H and FFA programs across Bremer County.
“I imagine their parents and grandparents were exhibitors at the fair at one time in their lives,” he said. “I’ve always attended the fair. I feel the fair board has done an excellent job of bringing this fair forward with the available space in which they had to work.”
Originally, the lease agreement between the City of Waverly and the Bremer County Fair Association was to run out in February. However, the Waverly City Council last month approved a resolution to add another year to the lease for the 2019 fair.
Fair officials hoped to have the new fairgrounds ready for the 2020 fair, but during discussions for the council’s approval of the 2019 lease, a possible year-to-year extension was talked about until the fair moves out of the park.
Fuoss said his gift will be used as a memorial for his late wife, JoAnn, who died Oct. 18, 2010, from complications of dementia. They were married for 28 years.
“She was in the girls’ 4-H (when younger),” he said. “Western Douglas was where she was from.
“She grew up east of Horton, and she’d been a girl around for many years. I just wanted to honor a very good wife.”
Fuoss said that Champions Ridge is a very important project for Waverly and Bremer County.
“It’s got to go,” he said. “It’s a must. We’ve outgrown the present (facilities), and when I see exhibiting at this fair and the tractor pulls that come in here and the combine demolition derby, it brings in thousands of people to town.
“The National Tractor Pulling Association, they’ve got tractors coming here from other states. It’s more than just Bremer County or Champions Ridge, it’s for the good for many, many people for years to come.”
The Champions Ridge committee, which is made up of representatives of the Bremer County Fair Association and the Waverly Softball Association, is in the middle of a fundraising push to collect at least $1 million in cash pledges by January to meet a mandate set by the Waverly City Council. They’ve passed the $550,000 mark as of a report made on Sept. 24, and they have another secondary goal of $750,000 by mid-November.
To make a pledge, contact Hinrichs with General Development Group at 641-425-5169 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fuoss said one reason to donate is to take advantage of tax deductions, as Champions Ridge is a 501(c)(3) organization under the Internal Revenue Service.
“For the young people today, have (their parents and grandparents) participate, also,” he said.